Invisible No More demonstrations in Arlington, VA and Silver Spring, MD
Saturday, October 24, 2020
A core group of four women with disabilities set out to draw attention to African Americans with disabilities, police brutality, and racism. In the wake of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, the Black Lives Matter movement has resurged as a force for justice. Since June, when George Floyd died at the hands of police force on his neck, masses took the streets in protest. An element was missing – black and brown people with disabilities. The pandemic, COVID 19, has squashed access to the outside world for many people with disabilities because we are more susceptible to the virus. From the demonstrations of a father-son team who chose to speak out in a safer way, these four women decided to expand upon this by creating Invisible No More-DMV. INM-DMV’s mission is to hold demonstrations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to bring light to People of Color with disabilities. Our Lives Matter Too. The first two demonstrations were held on the same day, one in Arlington, Virginia and the other in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In Arlington, all four corners of Wilson Boulevard and North George Mason Drive, were filled with disabled people of color. This county is predominately white. Although the immediate neighborhood is working class, a few blocks down the street in all directions houses and condos sell in the low millions. We spent two hours waving our signs to cars. In return, they honked. Our signs read, “Disabled Black and Brown Lives Matter”, “Invisible No More-DMV”, “Matter of Equality not Charity”, “At Higher Risk in Police Encounter”, “All Had A Disability (included the following names) Sandra Bland, Alfred Olango, Eric Garner, Keith Scott, Tanisha Anderson, Deborah Danner, Ezell Ford, and Freddie Gray.”
In Silver Spring, the tempo was slightly different; but nonetheless the feeling was the same. Silver Spring, Maryland is racially and culturally diverse. The demonstration took place in the middle of a downtown shopping district. There was outdoor music, people going in and out of restaurants, and the busyness of city life transpiring. At this site, instead of spreading out on four corners, half of us stood on one side of the street, and half on the other side. We gained 10 more demonstrators, bringing our total to around 30.
At the conclusion of the day the evaluation of the two demonstration sites caused some of us to reflect on our effectiveness. Some of us questioned whether we should have chosen a different location, whether we succeeded in recruiting a critical mass to demonstrate, or even whether we were heard. However, we agreed we saw in people’s eyes the light of awareness of our position- Invisible No More-Black and Brown People with Disabilities Lives Matter. Our mission was a success that day.
Our next and final demonstration for 2020 is on Veterans’ Day, November 11th, in the early afternoon, at the Black Lives Matter Plaza in downtown Washington, DC. We look forward to having more people join us. In the meantime, please go to our Facebook page.
Visit NBDC's Facebook page for more photos of "Visible No More . . ."